After the Rebbitzen passed away on 22nd Shevat 5748/1988, various stories began to emerge attesting to her greatness and the part that she played in the life and career of her husband, the Rebbe, strictly behind the scenes.
Rabbi Chesed Halberstam, who looked after the Rebbe’s home for eighteen years, told many fascinating and inspiring stories about the Rebbitzen, which were reproduced in an article in the Kfar Chabad weekly magazine. For example, he described the mutual respect that existed between the Rebbe and Rebbitzen. The Rebbitzen would always wait patiently for her husband to return home, even if this was during the early hours of the morning. And no matter what time it was or how busy he was, the Rebbe would always sit down with her and discuss various issues with her. Rabbi Halberstam eventually had the impression that the Rebbe would consult with the Rebbitzen on a variety of issues.
An Educated and Sincere Person
Rebbitzen Chaya Mushka was an extremely intelligent, educated person, with a deep knowledge of religious and secular subjects. She spoke seven languages fluently, and those who were privileged to speak to her personally were struck by her profound understanding, quick wit, and gentle humor. The Rebbitzen had strong, definite opinions on every subject, but she would never contradict her husband’s beliefs on any issue.
It is very interesting to see how similar descriptions of the Rebbitzen’s personality are to those of the Rebbe. The Rebbitzen would also never give in on any issues of spirituality, always adhering uncompromisingly to the truth. The Rebbitzen could never stand falsehood, cynicism, or mockery of other people. Like the Rebbe, she had a deep love for every Jew, no matter who he was.
“She Can Give Blessings”
Another example of the greatness of the Rebbitzen was seen on more than one occasion, when people called the Rebbe’s home in an emergency situation, and it was one of the few times when the Rebbe was resting. Rabbi Halberstam recalled that in such a case, the Rebbitzen would handle the issue.
Nshei Chabad once sent the Rebbitzen a bouquet of flowers for her birthday, with an envelope of names of people needing blessings. Rabbi Halberstam gave the flowers to the Rebbitzen and brought the envelope to the Rebbe. The Rebbe looked at the envelope and saw that the Rebbitzen’s name was written on the front. The Rebbe asked Rabbi Halberstam why he did not give the envelope to the Rebbitzen. Rabbi Halberstam apologized and explained that it contained a list of names for blessings. The Rebbe replied very seriously, “But she can also give blessings!”
Since Rebbitzen Chaya Mushka passed away, hundreds of institutions bearing her name have been founded, many of which teach Torah and Yiddishkeit to women, passing on her legacy to so many.